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  • Jenn Jones

The Path of Progress: Slips, Slides, and the Journey to Healing



Recovery is hard. Making changes is hard. Slips are part of recovery. But how do we not allow a slip to become a slide?


We often put immense pressure on ourselves, sometimes compounded by external pressures, to be perfect at recovery. Whether recovering from alcohol, substances, self-injury, disordered eating or other behaviors, there's a pressure to recover in a way that isn't accessible for many of us. Dare I say, it isn't accessible for any of us. The idea of getting into recovery and immediately stopping all the behaviors isn't realistic. Slips happen. But how do we have a slip without letting it turn into a slide? This is what I want to explore here.


Slips happen. They are part of the change process. The push and pull of being human in this very complicated existence, stumbling and trying to navigate healing and recovery, is hard. When slips happen, we often are too hard on ourselves, spiraling into shame and guilt. This shame leads to more slips, and we end up believing we've failed, leading to a slide. What if, when the slip happens, we just allow it? What if we see it as part of the process and not part of our undoing? What if the slip is a learning opportunity? What if we honor the slip instead of falling straight into a slide because of what we've been conditioned to believe?


I used to count time. At one time, I thought this was helpful. But when I slipped, I was conditioned to believe that this time was somehow erased. Because someone else said so? No way. My hard work was still solid, and I just had a slip. Taking slips, and even a couple of slides, and continuing to know that no slip and no slide would ever undo the hard work I put in, regardless of what any program or person says, is a truth my bones know.


Slips happen. It's about seeing the slip as just what it is—a slip. No runner running a race who trips is ever told to get up and go back to the start line. The runner simply gets up, brushes themselves off, and starts running again. So why should I shame myself into turning a slip into a slide?


Honoring that slips happen, acknowledging them, and moving forward with a fresh day the next day—still in recovery, still with the same progress and not sliding back into the behaviors I want to honor—saved my life at one time. There is so much judgment, internal and external, around slips and slides, leading to spirals and even resulting in death. I am here to advocate for a different way. Honoring slips as just a part of it and continuing to move forward prevents the slide many times. And if there is a slide, knowing that we don't have to spiral is crucial.

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